Cemeteries of London

Album: Viva la Vida (2008)

Songfacts®:

  • Coldplay recorded this song in a Barcelona church, which provided the distinctive echo. Bass player Guy Berryman told Entertainment Weekly: "When I imagine the song in my head, I see London in 1850. A hell of a lot of rain and men in top hats."
  • This folk-tinged ghost story was written overnight after producer Brian Eno's assistant, Markus Dravs, assessed one of Chris Martin's songs as "good" but not yet "great." Martin explained to Q magazine July 2008: "I was mortified. But if you tell me to write a better song, I'll do it. He said it was good but said it in a German way. If you come in wis ze song, it's finished, complete, great, I will say it's great. Zis is not finished, not complete and therefore I cannot say it's great. So I was, OK, f-k you, man! And the next day I came in and played Cemeteries Of London."
  • This features some Spanish flamenco clapping. Chris Martin told MTV News that this was their first use of handclaps on any of the band's albums. Drummer Will Champion added: "The Spanish flamenco clapping is incredible when you hear it done properly, although ours is a very crude and English version of it. It's like more of a golf clap - 'Good par!' - or some seals."
  • Chris Martin (from The Sun newspaper May 13, 2008): "It's our attempt at a Smiths song. It's about witch drownings. I was interested about that period in London where people were supposedly drowned for being a witch. And that's where that song came from. About being accused of something you didn't do."

Comments: 6

  • Emma from Kingston, EnglandThis song always makes me want to play Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess because the whole song is very much like the music in the abandoned "wild west" village!
    love this song, one of my absolute favorites.
  • Dara from Dublin, IrelandThe first time I heard it, it reminded me of my regular trips to London. I normally fly into city airport and get a cab to tower hill and walk through the city, all those ghostly little lanes and churches all the way down to fleet street.

    Anyway I play a lot at trad sessions in Ireland and a while ago I put a version of it together and played it.

    Most of the people their didn't know the tune but it went down very well. I did get asked the question "Was it an old English trad song?" funny really but you know a good song when you can play it anywhere and it fits right in..........
  • Liberty from Somewhere, InThis song is amazing. I love it because it's so haunting. And Justin, your description is exactly what I think of when i listen to it. Wow.
  • Liz from Sydney, AustraliaAnd by the way, Justin from CA, i totally dig your imagery. The whole song brings you to that place, and its like your just walking through it. Its great...
  • Liz from Sydney, Australia" I see God come in my garden, but i don't know what he said, for my heart it wasn't open, not open..."

    Those lyrics right there are, i think, much more deep that anyone can realise. Whether or not Chris knew it when he was writing those lyrics, i know that they have spoken to alot of people. I also think that they are probably an awesome insight into what was going through his mind at the time. I cant say for sure, but thats what i think.

    The whole song is so melancholic, and it just completely touches every part of the inside. The harmonies, the simplicity, the echo, the whole 'spiritual' side of things. There is such a big element of mystery to it. "There are ghost towns in the ocean" ?!?!?. i'm sorry, but for me, i was like... 'hold up. What were you feeling when you were writing this?' How could anyone have written this song with the simple intention of just making money out of it...

    For me, music is such a huge part of my whole life, spiritual, worldly, and emotionaly. (just to clear this, i'm not at all emo, i'm just completely fanatical about the spiritual side of music). And whether Chris is writing from his heart or his pocket, it completely speaks to me. Not so much the lyrics, but the music itself. Makes you feel a certain way, can completely turn your whole day up side down. This song it totally one of those songs.
  • Justin from Roseville, CaDefinitely haunting. Filled with fog of a seaside town. It carries you down from a hilltop through stone buildings, past hand-lit street lamps, with the darkened sea resting eerily in the distance. I think it's one of those songs that really catches the ear of someone who originally wasn't paying attention.
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